The Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee wrapped up its pre-session work on Friday and approved additional funding for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department…two percent pay hikes for state, community college, and University of Wyoming employees…and money for a number of construction projects. Republican lawmakers call their budget conservative and forward thinking, especially since they say the revenue picture is uncertain in the future. However, a Democratic lawmaker has concerns. Cheyenne Representative Mary Throne is particularly upset that the J-A-C took money that was intended to fund local governments and used it to make up for 25 million dollars in lost Payment in Lieu of Taxes money that may be cut by the federal government. Throne says instead, lawmakers should make up for that loss by using money from the legislative reserve account. “The thing is we have 1.7 billion dollars in LSRA money, it makes a lot more sense to take 25 million out of that. Because it’s likely the federal government will pay that money back at some point.”Throne is also concerned that lawmakers are proposing lower raises for public employees and teachers than was recommended by the governor. Thorne is concerned that too much money was put into savings instead of addressing needs.
“Basically what I feel like the appropriations committee did is they took a basically stable revenue picture and by funneling away the money to different accounts made it look like we are in a fiscal crisis. And I don’t think that’s the way to budget for the future. Because we are not in a fiscal crisis. Throne is also upset that the committee voted down an amendment to fund Medicaid expansion in the state. Experts say that if Wyoming did that...it would save millions of dollars.